Imagine this. You are driving north on I-75 in Atlanta, heading toward the I-285 Perimeter, when you see two white tailed deer along the side of the road, less than 20 from the southbound lanes.
This really did happen, to me, last weekend.
My dad and I were heading to the Silver Comet Trail for a bike ride when I saw those two deer, near Mt. Paran Road, in the Buckhead neighborhood. While many would be very happy to see that, my thought was more on how many people they might kill.
It goes without saying that people fear predators. They can kill us and would gladly use us for their next meal if given the chance. Look at that we have done to wolf, bear, and shark populations because of that fear. (The picture is from a Boston lawyer's blog post about a deer attack on a jogger.)
You would be surprised at how few humans these predators kill in a year. This number pales in comparison to what herbivores kill, and especially deer, because we have killed all the predators that might otherwise keep their numbers in check.
According to the International Shark Attack File, which tracks shark attacks all over the world, in the last 10 years there have been 10 people killed by sharks in the U.S. Another 38 survived their attacks over the same time frame. Bearplanet.org, which looks at bear attacks, says that over the last 10 years 28 people have been killed in bear attacks.
On the other hand deer kill about 200 people in the U.S. every year. They also caused personal injury to over 10,000 people in the same time frame. At the same time they caused $1 billion in vehicle damage.
Did you ever wonder why your car insurance goes up at certain times of the year? Or why your state charges more to insure your car than another state does for the exact same car? Deer. And all of this is not even counting how much money you spend after they destroy your prized ornamental garden. (Themap from Kfor.com shows your likelikhood of getting into a collision with a deer during rutting season.)
Deer are dangerous. It is more dangerous to drive your car during the fall because male deer are consumed with passing their genes onto the next generation. They are moving to try and find and mate with as many females as they can. It is biology that makes them do this, not stupidity.
All of this reminds me of a conversation that goes on all the time. Those who hunt are in a meeting talking about how many animals to kill and when. “They are fun to hunt, and are becoming a pest in some cities.” Conservationists scream at them “don’t kill Bambi's mother”.
This is silly. Bambi's mother is dead, everyone who has seen the movie knows that. (To the right, from carinsurancelist, an illustration from "The People vs. Bambi," showing car damage from a deer strike.)
Second, what about the people who are killed or injured due to deer every year? As I said before around 200 people are killed but deer every year. And as much as conservationist want to think, they are indiscriminate.
If you are in a car that hits a deer, the deer will damage your car, possibly totaling it. It could also go through the windshield and use its razor sharp hoofs to slice into your flesh. Who wants that?
As Phil Collins sang in his 1993 song, “We always need to hear both side of the story.” If we don't let nature be balanced it will unbalance us.